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Carolyn Hax: Keep peace, take turns, lose grudges

Hi, Carolyn: My spouse is one of three siblings, and there are nieces, but we have the only two boys. One sister-in-law asked us to come on vacation with the rest of the family (14 of us), but wants our family of four to stay in a separate house so we have enough “space.”

Spouse and I see a half-invitation: SIL wants to go on vacation with the sibling she’s closer to, but not us. Since it would not be politically correct to go on vacation with everyone but us, we are invited to get our own house.

Our boys are typical high-energy boys and very different from the calmer nieces, but our boys play well with these nieces.

Last year, SIL’s family invited us in the same manner. Spouse explained that if SIL’s family wanted the space (as they’d claimed), then they should stay in a second house.

As you would expect, they then felt excluded from evening activities (adults playing cards). So, spouse has been informed that it is our “turn.” Since they felt excluded, we cannot imagine why our “turn” would be workable. So, how do we respond? – Separate is not equal

I haven’t seen this much scorekeeping since we took the kids bowling.

Non-news flash: Someone in your family grates on someone in the sister’s family. Maybe it’s your rowdy boys, or your spouse, or you.

Meanwhile, taking “turns” in the satellite house strikes me as a civil, adult way to accommodate the various needs and sensitivities of a large, multigenerational group.

What isn’t civil or adult is collecting grievances like so many seashells. On your grudge list you’ve got a perceived bias against boys; perceived favoritism toward your spouse’s other sib; use of euphemisms (“space,” “turns”); and exclusion from the main house.

Each of your grievances may be justified. What you’re doing with them, however, equals escalation.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.


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